Exercising outdoors is an enjoyable way for many of us to nurture our physical and mental health during lockdown, but there have been restrictions in place regarding where we can exercise safely outdoors. Now, some states are starting to reopen beaches and parks for exercise, which is great news for people who love getting active in or near the ocean, or in green spaces.
Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina have recently reopened a range of beaches and parks, but with continued social distancing guidelines maintained. At a news conference (opens in new tab) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said it was important for people to have outlets for getting exercise, sunshine and fresh air, and that some municipalities should feel free to start opening up parks and beaches, if it can be done safely, with social distancing measures observed. "Do it in a good way. Do it in a safe way," DeSantis said.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has already taken DeSantis up on the offer, reopening beaches and parks throughout Duval County but with specific restrictions in place. Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach (opens in new tab) are now open from 6am to 11am and 5pm to 8pm (they remain closed at all other times) for exercise.
"This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life,” Curry said in a statement (opens in new tab) shared online. "Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors."
The forms of sport and exercise mentioned include:
- Exercising your pet
Not everyone feels comfortable exercising outdoors during the continued coronavirus outbreak, with some local residents criticizing the move to reopen parks and beaches while the coronavirus outbreak continues.
On a related note, this has also led to a hike in the sale of home exercise equipment, including the best fitness trackers and the best treadmills for people who are preferring to walk and run indoors right now.
No sunbathing is allowed at present on Duval County beaches, and chairs, coolers and BBQs are also prohibited to discourage people from picnicking. Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said in a statement: “Just to be clear, this is an opportunity for people to come out to the beach to exercise a couple of times a day. It’s not a sunbathing opportunity.” WFLA News tweeted a video of Jacksonville Beach shortly after it reopened, showing a crowd gathering and exercising near the water.
📢 Reminder 📢When Duval County beaches & parks open today from 5pm to 8pm it is for exercise only - No chairs, coolers, sunbathing, or towels/blankets laid out to sit on. Thank you for continuing to practice social distancing, for more information: https://t.co/TmkOmWZOqk pic.twitter.com/0mZLiMBoc9April 17, 2020
Parks owned and operated by the City of Jacksonville have also resumed normal hours. Gatherings are still limited to fewer than 50 people, and no organized group activities, including team sports, are allowed.
According to local news outlets in South Carolina, Governor Henry McCaster has reopened public boat docks (opens in new tab) and intends to reopen beaches this week. While in North Carolina, some beaches have already reopened. All 36 public beach accesses have reopened in Surf City (opens in new tab), and the Town of Emerald Isle has lifted restrictions on recreational water access (opens in new tab) for residents and property owners. Tourists are discouraged from visiting.
Social distancing rules in America
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise the following when outside of your home, including for exercise:
- Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people
- Do not gather in groups
- Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings